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A study found links between the Venezuelan government and criminal activities

Venezuela has all the conditions to be qualified as a "Mafia State". Among these factors are the presence of organized crime networks at the high levels of government, corruption, and the government's link to drug trafficking.

Leer en español: "Venezuela es un Estado mafioso": Jeremy McDermott, director ejecutivo de InSight Crime

In addition, the smuggling of food and the black market has favored the creation of criminal gangs, some of them with 300 members.

This was revealed by a report by the Investigation and Analysis of Organized Crime center, InSight Crime, which was released by the organization's executive director, Jeremy McDermott, who presented the study to the press in Bogotá.

The study entitled "Venezuela: A Mafia State?", released in partnership with the Universidad del Rosario of Colombia, is the result of three years of investigations by the Investigation and Analysis Organized Crime center, InSight Crime.

"We started by studying members of the Bolivarian regime and its links to criminal activity, and that was the point that led us to the conclusion that Venezuela is a Mafia State," said Jeremy McDermott.

The information that Venezuela has become a "narco-state" has been circulating since 2002, to such an extent that the United States has established sanctions around 50 Venezuelan officials because they maintain links with drug trafficking.

Even Switzerland, which is not known for its aggressive foreign policy, announced sanctions against Venezuela, declaring itself seriously concerned about the repeated violations of individual freedom in Venezuela, where the principle of the separation of powers is seriously depleted and the process in sight of the next election seriously lacks legitimacy.

Involved in drug trafficking

The report points out the most influential politicians in the country related to drug trafficking, including the deputy of the National Assembly and former president of the same organization Diosdado Cabello; the first lady of Venezuela, Cilia Flores; the vice president of the country, Tareck El Aissami; and the Minister of the Interior, Nestor Luis Reverol.

The list also includes country governors, directors of Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA, security force officials, and former members of the executive branch.

In general terms, officials from the legislative, municipal, executive, regional and judicial branches are accused of belonging to the drug trafficking network of the Soles Cartel, the report said.

And in addition to the issue of drug trafficking, we must add the participation of Colombian criminal groups, since the main transit for Colombian cocaine is Venezuela. From there, it goes to the Dominican Republic, and then it is exported to the United States and Europe.

Likewise, the illegal economy, beyond drug trafficking, has a large presence in the country and in the border area as a result of the smuggling of gasoline into Colombia, from which many illegal Colombian groups are nourished, and by the expansion of the black market of basic products.

Another point to be highlighted is the high rates of violence by state and non-state actors. In "Venezuela there have been 89 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants during 2017, which makes this country the most dangerous in Latin America," according to the InSight Crime report, and it is very likely that Venezuelan "state mafia" tendencies continue to grow.

In that sense, the Andean country will become one of the regional centers of crime in Latin America, a situation that will have serious consequences for neighboring countries and for the region in general.

Arlene Tickner, a professor at the Universidad del Rosario and a researcher at the Organized Crime Observatory, affirmed that "the solution" to this phenomenon "is not to close the border", but "to design policies to receiving and hosting" those fleeing from Venezuela "mainly for humanitarian reasons."

Latin American Post | Cenay Sanchez

Translated from ""Venezuela es un Estado mafioso": Jeremy McDermott, director ejecutivo de InSight Crime"

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